Climbing Mount Batur

Bali, Day 3 ( 1 December 2016)- Conquering Mount Batur was certainly no easy feat but it definitely was the highlight of our Bali trip! We started the day in the wee hours of the morning at 2am and dragged our lazy selves into our driver’s car before falling back to sleep again on our way from Legian to our destination. When we reached, it was still dark and the sky studded with stars. The weather was surprisingly chilly so we were both lucky that we brought our jackets along. Though 10 mins into the hike and we were already stripping them off. After we got acquainted with our friendly guide who passed us a torchlight each, we were off.

Our hike started on an excited note, with us chatting and laughing about. He confidently assured us that since we’re both healthy and fit individuals, we’ll probably take around 1 and a half hours to hike up compared to the usual 2 hours. We totally LOLed at that, thinking that he had a little too much faith in us. However, the hike didn’t seem that bad since the path was pretty flat and sandy. Then he pointed enthusiastically up at a stream of dotted lights slowly making its way up a really steep mountain. That, he told us, was where we were heading to. It did give us a shock and it didn’t really register in my mind just how high we were climbing. My friend joked how he probably shouldn’t have revealed the truth to us, but we were definitely now more mentally prepared for a tough journey ahead.

Slowly though, the  path narrowed, the ground got steeper with uneven surfaces and bigger pieces of rocks appearing. He told us that there were two main sections to the climb. The first part, which we were at was relatively easy, while the second part was more challenging. Although we haven’t reached the second half, I already felt it was a little tiring. But we carried on, and finally reached the midway point where we paused for a longer rest.

Then, we got ready for the challenge to come, and it was a challenge indeed. I couldn’t have imagined my fate if I hiked without my guide. A couple of times he grabbed me just in time when I lost my balance. Phew. So on and on we trekked, the fact that there were people both in front and behind us kind of keeps you motivated to keep going. It was physically tiring and a little mentally draining since you had to be alert and select the right spots to place your footing. However, the hike was still within my capability and there were even old grannies hiking along too, looking professional with their hiking sticks and probably fitter than we were heh. It seemed like a never ending hike until he called out that we were just 25 minutes away from the first sunrise watching spot, after which we could decide if we wanted to continue on to the second viewpoint or the peak. Well, our first goal was definitely just to reach the first checkpoint. And finally, we did it. We hugged and congratulated each other for making it at last, and took our first victory shot.

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WhatsApp Image 2016-12-06 at 03.51.05.jpegAlready I felt a great sense of accomplishment. Surprisingly, we still had 40 mins till sunrise, which was a lot of time left (maybe we’re that fit after all hah) and since we were already here on Mount Batu, why not just go all the way to the top? Taking a deep breath, I mentally prepare myself for another similar experience and it was right that I did because the hike was even steeper than before. But on and on we trekked and before we knew it we’ve reached the top. It was a spectacular sight as the sun was already peaking behind the clouds, turning them into streaks of gold, orange and yellow. Such an amazing view, almost surreal and too picturesque like a painting, with the sun rising above the mist of clouds that shrouded the mountain opposite us, an even more challenging Mount Agung. We took more than enough photos of course, and then settled down at a nice spot to be wowed by mother nature’s beauty, while savouring the breakfast set -banana sandwich with soft boiled eggs- that our lovely guide made for us.

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After staying as long as we could, we knew reluctantly that we had to start making our way down, probably the most dreaded part that we wish we didn’t have to confront. If going up was tough, going down, I thought, would be worse. But at the same time it was kind of fun in an exciting way? There was a path we took which was pretty much all sand and we were practically sliding our way down. I must have looked and sounded like a joke as I was flinging my arms wildly and screaming hysterically. Halfway down we heard someone exclaiming “Oh that looks so fun!I want to go there too!”. That “laugh till I’m crying” emoji would’ve been the perfect reaction heh. So after going pass that steepest part, I could finally enjoy the scenery around me better. He showed us the active craters that were still releasing steam and we saw soo many monkeys. After my bad encounter with monkeys at Uluwatu I was really careful not to get too near to them. But look at that monkey selfie we got!

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There were many baby monkeys too which were extremely cute! But I dare not try to cuddle them. He also showed us what’s left after the volcanic eruption turned a village into black sandy flat land.

I’m not sure how long we took to reach the bottom but it was definitely longer since we took an easier but more windy road which I didn’t mind at all. It was really nice to enjoy looking at the endless stretches of plantation below us and looking back at the volcano we hiked in the morning, we just couldn’t believe that we were really just up there in the morning.

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Second Stop: Coffee plantation

We spent the next half of the day visiting a coffee plantation and trying a full range of coffee and tea, including the Luwak coffee which didn’t taste any different to me since I don’t actually drink coffee.

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“Shit Coffee” cleaned vs uncleaned

Third stop: Holy Spring Water Temple 

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Our guide got really creative with this shot haha

Fourth stop: Chilling at our pool and ending the night off at a bar along Seminyak beach. We went there looking for a bar with those colour beanbags we saw on Instagram and found way more than one heh, it was basically the entire stretch.

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So my verdict on climbing Mount Batur?
JUST DO IT. The hike was tough but still manageable for me and if you’re physically fit it shouldn’t be any problem at all. Do make sure the weather is in your favour though, it’s already slippery enough without the rain and I honestly can’t imagine how I’d manage if it started pouring halfway through. But the view was indeed worth the effort!

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Ghostly Gorgeous Mittenwald

Mittenwald, Germany/Austria (12 June 2016) – Right after the trip to Konigsee was another hiking trip to Mittelwald which was just as amazing. Our main route for the day was to visit the Gorge of the Ghosts (Leutasch Geisterklamm) , hike up to a restaurant called the Hut, hike back down to the village of Mittenwald where we will take the train back to Munich.

Our first stop was a short trail to the waterfall. We had to pay 2.50 euros to enter but it was definitely worth going! It brings you into the innermost region of the gorge with the foamy waters flowing fast beneath you and where you reach the waterfall at the end.

 

Then it was our turn to hike through the Gorge Ghost Trail. It’s really designed to be family friendly with educational stops along the way and stories about goblins and ghosts. We even saw a man carrying a baby who is probably only a few months old on his back!The hike was really easy at the start with the path already paved out, but after awhile it got a little harder when we had to hike up to a restaurant called the Hut which was a little steep and slippery but thank god the weather was great and it wasn’t raining like it was yesterday. At one point we even crossed the border of Germany and Austria, indicated by a square stone brick with T on one side and A on the other.

After what seems like a never-ending series of twists and turns, we finally reached the HUT. And it was totally worth it because we had the most amazing view of the Bavarian Alps around us that looked completely picturesque. Amazingly the weather did not disappoint like it was predicted to by the weather forecast, and the sun was shining in all its glory.

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We chilled around for a good two hours or so before making our way back down. Fortunately we did not have to take the original path and going down was so much easier.

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Then we reached the village of Mittelwald which was so beautiful and I especially loved how the houses were so colourfully well painted. The whole town pretty much could have popped out of any fairytale story though it felt a little like a ghost town especially since it was a Sunday with all the shops closed and barely anyone on  the streets. We had some ice cream and just sat around to enjoy the peace of this tiny town among the alps. Perfect way to end the day I say!

Königsee

Königsee, Germany (11 June 2016) – Yet again, another paradise on earth. Upon reaching our destination after a really early train ride to Königsee, we were greeted with amazing clear crystal blue waters. Although the weather wasn’t really in our favour and it was already drizzling, the waters were still a breathtaking blue, though it’d probably be even more so when the sun is up and shinning. We took a boat ride, passing between towering rock cliffs. At one point, boat guide told us to shut the windows on one side of the boat while opening up the rest on the other side, took out his trumpet, played a few notes and paused. We waited in anticipation, everyone silent and listening attentively. To the surprise of everyone on the boat, we could really hear the notes being echoed back a few seconds later. Absolutely unbelievable. And the sound of the trumpet echoed was faint but crisp and clear.

We reached our first stop at St Bartholomew around lunchtime. The famous church probably most popularly seen in postcards was just as picturesque as it looked, with the Alpen behind and the lake reflecting the red domed church. We did a mini Rundweg since we only had an hour to explore but just walking alongside the lake enjoying the gorgeous view was more than I can ask for.

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We took another boat ride next to our next stop to hike to a waterfall that’s supposed to be the largest one in Germany. We hiked along the lake and the lush greenery, pretty easy for the most part until we reached a steeper section of the route that was made more slippery and muddy due to the rain that was getting heavier.

We saw A LOT of cows along the way and the Scheiße they left behind. UGH. But well at least the cows were cute and friendly and didn’t mind us approaching them! We continued hiking but it got to a point where rain was really making things hard for us so we stopped halfway through and decided to head back. We still managed to see the waterfall but probably just not as close up as we’d liked to.

This trip was so so worth it. I’ll definitely be back again when the weather gets better and I can only imagine how gorgeous it will look on a sunny day.